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Loras College Alumni Chris Stoker ('18) outside in Dubuque, Iowa

Stokes on Spokes

December Duhawk Dozen

Chris Stoker (’18)
Philosophy 
Ames, Iowa

Many people dream of taking a step back, getting rid of stressors, and taking time to reflect: 2018 graduate Chris Stoker did just that as he left the material world behind for a cross-country bike trip. Although it may seem like an impulsive decision, discerning and taking a step back, became a common theme for all that Chris has done. “Discernment has been an ongoing piece for me,” Chris started. “In my first course at Loras, we were told discernment is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” While facing the task of searching for his joys and the world’s needs, Chris has had experience within the Seminary and the Loras College Admission Office and acknowledges that it is a bit of a lofty task. “It’s an ongoing part of life and I try to constantly reflect on it. It’s a daily process.”

Chris’s discernment started when he was deciding on what college was the right fit for him. “One of my parish priests had recommended Loras to me,” Chris started. “I went to visit Loras during Iowa Private College Week, did an overnight visit, and received the Breitbach Catholic Leaders scholarship, and that really sealed the deal for me.” When searching for a college, the seminary was always in the back of Chris’s mind. “It started while I was in High School, but I hadn’t seriously considered it until I met the other seminarians on campus.” It was the summer between his sophomore and junior when he was able to step away from his attachments and reflect on the decision in front of him and enter the seminary. After 4 years of discernment, Chris recognized the need to take some time and step away from the seminary. The decision to discern out of the seminary was a difficult one, but ultimately Chris knew that even in deciding, he had made the right choice. “You must make a decision. Taking that step is crucial and things will always become clearer once you take that step.”

In 2020, Chris came back to his alma mater to join the Admission Team. Chris was able to take his overwhelmingly positive student experience and help families at Wahlert High School in Dubuque, as well as families in six Chicagoland counties, figure out if Loras was the place for them. Chris was able to take his incredibly positive experience as a student at Loras, and help potential future Duhawks find their perfect fit. “Loras does a great job preparing students for the future,” Chris started. “I was confidently able to tell families that I was working with that Loras is there to help them find their talents and find a way to give it back to the world.”

After a successful year recruiting future generations of Duhawks, the opportunity came for Chris to take the adventure of a lifetime, though he was still in a state of disbelief. “If you would have told me a year ago that I would be biking across the country, I would have told you were 100% wrong.” However, Chris found inspiration from an older friend, who encouraged him to go for it. “I wasn’t expecting a friend to encourage me to just ‘go.’ So, I figured I needed to take that leap and step into the unknown.” The 4,000-mile trip brought new sites, experiences, and friends into Chris’s life. The adventure encapsulated all the elements of life that both excited and scared Chris, but it was the decision to do it that Chris says really counts. Through it all, the highs and lows, Chris left our listeners with one last piece of advice. “You have to take that step, make a decision, and know you have a community to support you: that’s what makes life fun.”

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